Kids’ Education: It Takes a Village (Breakout 2)

By Cheryl Evans

The predominant current educational model is not resonating with kids, parents, or teachers, and suggestions on improving and disrupting it are everywhere.

David Engle and Marc Prensky are active members of SNS’ Project Inkwell, which focuses on increasing experiential education through the medium of technology in K-12 classrooms worldwide. They both brought many years of experience to the discussion. Engle was part of the Maritime Discovery Schools Initiative focused on a place-based education, incorporating the unique resources of the community throughout the school year. Prensky recently released a book titled Education to Better Their World: Unleashing the Power of 21st Century Kids about developing young people’s capacity to accomplish things that will make their world a better place.

The two led an informative discussion during the Future in Review 2016 conference on the downfalls of the content delivery teaching model versus a model focused on empowering kids to pursue their passions via accomplishment based education programs, as well as the importance of involving the local communities. Engle stressed the need to develop an environment conducive to raising “young people that can be citizens – an agent[sic] for change in the community.”

In many cases, their model begins with teacher training and the emphasis of accomplished based projects to provide a well-rounded model. Engle supported a fifth grade project to clean up a community stream to better preserve and protect the salmon population. This project incorporated the efforts of all of the class members and also enabled the teacher to help the kids understand how biology, chemistry, mathematics, horticulture, etc. can be applied outside of the classroom. This was an opportunity to “bring them real world problems, help them discover a solution and [open their eyes] to the impact they can make,” said Engle.

Prenksy has led panel discussions with kids from around the world.

“Their number one concern was that [they] felt disrespected and not trusted,” he said. “They want to be part of their world – do we take away their agency or do we encourage it?”

To discover more or read other articles from the conference, visit or our Medium blog.